Rapid Response Collecting: A Curatorial Strategy for Museums to Promote Notions of Democracy and Social Equality
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We live in a museum age, Steven Conn writes. Indeed, since the turn of the 21st- century museums are taking a more central role in society as more and more people visit them each year. At the same time, an increasing amount of voices in the art world are calling for a more politically and socially engaged cultural sphere. This demand strengthens the urgency for the establishment of new forms of curating which will cater to this necessity for museums to be more involved with society through political and societal engagement. In this thesis, I suggest Rapid Response Collecting (RRC) as a strategy for museums to increase their social engagement. RRC is a new and developing method of curating that responds to recent societal, political, and cultural events by selecting, acquiring, and presenting artifacts that reflect on these events. It is increasing the position of the museum as a socially engaged institution and elevates it into a key player in crucial societal debates. Furthermore, RRC encourages curators to develop participatory curating methods together with the institution’s immediate community. Perhaps most importantly, RRC puts a spin on the fundamental question about the relevance of museums today, challenging the role museums and curators currently play in society.